"What our findings suggest is that if we wait until the last year of high school or college to take some kind of action that could prevent the misuse of opioid painkillers, it'll be a case of too little, too late," cautioned study co-author James Anthony, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Some kids had already misused these drugs by age 13 or 14, or eighth grade, the researchers found.
The authors warned that their findings highlight a weakness in public health strategies that take sole aim at college-age drug abusers, given that the roots of the problem seem firmly planted among younger students.
Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and substance abuse within the psychiatry department at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, agreed that the current analysis "correctly points to the need for prevention and early intervention."
Prescription pain relievers are becoming our nation's gravest drug-abuse problem," Galanter said. "And a pattern that often emerges is that younger adolescents may use these pills intermittently or occasionally, and then later fall into heavier use and addiction. So the earlier this issue can be addressed in that sequence, the greater will be the opportunity for a constructive outcome."
What can parents do?
Summer is approaching and your children will be home more often. Don't be the provider of drugs to your kids or their friends. Make sure to clean out any old prescriptions from your medicine cabinet and keep all narcotics locked up. Keeping the temptation to try drugs out of sight may help keep it out of their minds. notMYkid also believes in preventative home drug testing.
If you suspect your child is involved in any type of substance abuse, please don't hesitate to start that conversation!
Don't know where to start? Please contact notMYkid for support, information and resources.